Diabetic eye disease may include:
Diabetic Retinopathy-damage to the blood vessels in the retina, which may swell and leak fluid. Abnormal new blood vessels may grow on the surface of the retina. This is a leading cause of loss of vision among adults. In addition, fluid can leak into the central part of the retina responsible for reading and fine vision. This is called Macular Edema. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision. The risk for diabetic retinopathy increases in pregnant women.
Cataract-clouding of the eye's lens. Cataracts develop at an earler age in people with diabetes.
Glaucoma-increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision. Some studies show that diabetics are nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults.
All of these conditions are usually treatable if caught early enough
How can diabetics protect their vision?
Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. It is important to have a comprehensive dilated exam at least once a year. If you have diabetic retinal changes you may need to seen more frequently.
Call the office to notify your doctor if you note any changes in your vision.
The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy. The people with diabetes who kept their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve disease.
This level of blood sugar control may not be best for everyone, including some elderly patients, children under age 13, or people with heart disease. Be sure to ask your primary care doctor or endocrinologist if such a control program is right for you.
Other studies have shown that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. Controlling these will help your overall health as well as help protect your vision.